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Drugs classified as hallucinogens severely alter a person's perception of their surroundings, including their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It can result in people seeing, hearing, and feeling things that in reality do not exist. Some hallucinogens are found in plants (such as mushrooms) others are synthetically made (like LSD). Other examples of this drug include PCP, ketamine, ecstasy, and peyote.

Sometimes a person may experience the adverse and negative effects of hallucinogens and have what is called a "bad trip". They may experience strong feelings of anxiety, paranoia, panic or fear. They may feel like insects are crawling on the skin, or they can be so intense that the person feels they are losing control. Feelings of panic, paranoia and fear can lead to risky behavior that can cause injury, such as running across a busy street or jumping out of a window.

Days, weeks, or even years later, some people re-experience the effects of the drug. The person may see intense colors and experience hallucinations. Flashbacks can be triggered by the use of other drugs, or by stress, fatigue or physical exercise. Long-term, frequent use of some hallucinogens may impair aspects of memory and selected cognitive functions. It may also be linked to personality and mood changes. Some people may experience a "drug-induced" psychosis after using hallucinogens. Tolerance to the euphoric and psychedelic effects of hallucinogens develops rapidly if taken repeatedly over several days. Any tolerance developed quickly goes away once regular use is stopped. People who regularly use hallucinogens may develop a psychological dependence.

Deaths generally occur due to suicide, accidents and dangerous behavior, or due to the person inadvertently eating poisonous plant material. A severe overdose of PCP and ketamine can result in respiratory depression, coma, convulsions, seizures and death due to respiratory arrest.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of hallucination drug use include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Increased breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure

  • Anxiety, paranoia, and agitation

  • Disorganized thoughts

  • Hallucinations

  • Nausea and vomiting

Prevalence of Use


Facts and Figures: Hallucinogens - Drug Facts

NIDA Research Report: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs

The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information has information on alcohol and other substances of abuse.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Office of Applied Studies (OAS) provides the latest national data on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drug abuse.

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